Herbert Nehrlich

Rookie (04 October 1943 / Germany)

Rescue On Heldrastein - Poem by Herbert Nehrlich

When winds come from the Northern Ranges
and blow their lonely songs through trees,
when nightbirds follow season's changes
and razorbacks and elk roam free.
Where moonlit cliff above the valley
in silence harbours secrets, dark,
there legend has it that Anne-Sally
in late November, gathering bark
from the Northeastern Hemlock Spruce,
which is still used for roasting acorns,
same serve as stuffing for the goose
and ducks and turkeys, even leghorns.

**********


A chill was tugging on her vest,
fresh tracks of pigs were there to follow.
She thought about her precious guests,
arriving soon, when at Buck's Hollow,
she saw a shadow in the trees.
It seemed too big to be a boar
(at this time of the year quite tame) ,
when suddenly the feline roar
of mountain lions, hunting game
was heard and echoed as a threat
to all intruders venturing here.
'I must seek refuge in the shed',
she contemplated, fighting fear.

There was that shadow, once again,
a glimpse of hairyness and speed.
She thought of what the village men
had said, that she would risk, indeed,
her life by going out alone.
And to remember the old villain,
who lived in lofty caves of stone,
and was well-known for frequent killing
of animals and children, too.
He'd roam around the countryside,
to spot those kids at play and who
had hiked up into hills inspite
of dire warnings from their elders.

Anne-Sally hurried through the brush
to reach the safety of the shelter,
when she arrived there was a hush
in the surrounding forest life.
She stepped inside and caught her breath:
There stood the villain, with a knife!
As he approached her she smelled death.
Except it was not the Grim Reaper,
he smelled like only wild beasts reek.
'Twas Henning, villain, robber, keeper
of stony caves, a crazy freak.
He grabbed her arm and pulled her close,
two tiny pig eyes twinkling meanly.
She'd seen that look before in those,
who meant to have her and would, keenly,
try to persuade her of the merits
of early love, these village boys
to her were little more than ferrets.

She felt what was familiar now:
The bony hardness 'neath his fur.
His breath stank and she wondered how
she could get out of this malheur.
And villain Henning had no time
to consummate his prize for catching
this girl of beauty, 'cause the climb
ahead of them, where she'd be matching
his skills and strength, else he would throw
her off the mountain in a heap.
That was his way and had been so
since late last year, he aimed to keep
a lovely maiden from the town,
she would not share his furry bed,
refused to touch him, she went down:
Five hundred metres, and was dead.

So they took off to beat the dark.
He dragged her first but then explained,
that she could live and make her mark
with him, and love him, though detained,
she would enjoy their 'views forever'.
Her chores were just to keep the place
well dusted, clean, and with her clever
young housewife's skills she'd always face
each new day with the joy of living.
She'd wait for his return from hunting,
rush out to see if she'd be giving
a hand to him, as he came, grunting,
a giant bear tied to his back,
or deer or elk or Northern Moose.
And smaller fry in his green pack,
as usual, beaver, crow or goose.
Down to the entrance, quite a feat,
an almost vertical descent,
which he had chosen to defeat
courageous hunters who would try
to solve the puzzle of this villain,
and all of those who had come by
had disappeared, they couldn't kill him.

For 90 days and 90 nights,
the village folks, in desperation,
had searched the forest and the heights.
The master of the railway station
had recommended flying kites
to lure him out of that old cave.
Or HER to verify her presence.
And so they tried and then, a brave
and very small man, local peasant,
together with the physics teacher
and Doctor Quacksalber, physician,
with early blessings by the preacher,
to set about to make their vision
a promising reality.

A kite was built from local feather,
a harness made by the shoemaker.
Goosefat-immersed to proof for weather,
and flour-sprinkled by the baker,
a bovine bladder filled with gas,
top grade of Helium from the clinic.
The little man had little mass,
all had high hopes except one cynic.
It was the mayor of the town.
He shook his head and said 'No way',
'if he is lucky he'll come down
from lofty heights, so if I may
suggest a different approach:
We take all rifles, able men
and storm up to the Heldrastein.
Perhaps we can persuade our coach
to scout the region after nine,
when darkness sets and things get tired,
and we would follow as we can..'
This plan was, briefly, much admired
but as the danger became known
of an attack into the cave,
the mood swung back 'cause on his own
the little flier, light and brave,
would have a chance to be a spy,
perhaps could shoot from up above.
He would be safe if he could fly.
So, then the vote: With push and shove
it was decided to proceed.

The little man took off and rose,
while gently swaying to and fro.
Each time when dipping down the nose
he would lean back to maintain GO,
until he hovered near the top.
He flapped his feathered wings just once
and hung in silent mode on STOP,
when Henning peeked and saw the guns.
He whirled inside to get his arrows
and then he aimed at that strange bird,
and right behind him, stepping narrow
up to the front with hopeful eyes,
she could have pushed him then and there.
But, sometimes, what one does defies
all logic and is quite unfair,
but then she tripped and started falling,
and grabbed his shoulder to regain
her balance, when he turned, and stalling,
while looking up he tried in vain
to keep from tumbling into space.
So he went down to certain death,
they'd hear his impact at the base.
Remembering Shakespeare's Macbeth:
What was assumed was not the case.

A lonely tree, a knotty birch
did break his fall as he descended.
His face now showed a frightful smirch
and he prepared, his fate amended,
to climb back up, reclaim his life.
He called out: 'Here I come, my wife! '
The little farmer now had drifted
so close to our lovely maiden,
the Northern breeze had slightly shifted,
he wondered if the kite, twice laden,
would get them, safely down again.
He heard the words of the old villain
and, with much courage and a BANG
had landed on the ledge already.
The air was cold and wet and chilling,
and his adventure made for heady
considerations in his brain.
And so he took the struggling girl,
grabbed her securely by her mane
and gave the kite a hefty whirl.
Then they descended through the mist,
so very close to the steep wall,
they passed him, saw him raise his fist,
the kite now rocked, began to fall.
So this brave peasant whispered quickly,
that she'd be on her own from now,
and when she saw him leave, her sickly
shocked lips froze with the question 'HOW'.
He'd hurled himself to save her life
off his contraption, what a man!
The townfolks cheered when she arrrived,
two tearful faces from his clan
at once looked up, had heard a noise.
They all ran off, led by the boys.
And, there he was, our little guy.
He'd landed in the biggest stack
of hay, had proven he could fly
and land with an unusual knack.

Epilogue:

One week thereafter, that same flier
asked for her hand in matrimony.
A horny man, he meant to sire
a dozen kids, and Pepperoni
was his preferred meal for the wedding.
So she suggested that the stack
would be a most aprropriate setting.
That's what they did, and on her back,
commencing now their honeymoon,
she saw an object flying faster
than any bird she'd ever seen.
She feared there would be a disaster.

New hubby though seemed very keen
on making love in fragrant hay.
Yet when the object hit the ground,
they halted their erotic play,
and to inspect, he went and found
a bundle of some thirteen pheasants.
A note attached, said in gold pen:
'Best wishes, here's my wedding presents'.
They never heard from him again.


Note:
This story, while not entirely true,
is true enough to teach your kids to
stay away from certain dangers.
Not everyone can be lucky enough to land
in a haystack.


Comments about Rescue On Heldrastein by Herbert Nehrlich

  • (1/31/2005 11:41:00 PM)


    Herbert. The story and the way you tell it is excellent as always. However, that said, as a rhythmic poem, you loose the rhythem in some places. The first stanza,6th and 7th are great, other parts are also simply excellent. But as a whole it pauses in to many places, which is not to say that that is bad, it just bumps some. I think some of your other work is much better. I loved the story though, you are still the master of this form. Still friends? ? :) (Report) Reply

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  • (1/31/2005 8:31:00 PM)


    Thank you both for your kind words.
    Now it can be revealed that this really did happen, in 1911, on November 11.
    The local hospital supplied the helium, butcher Nortmann the cow bladder, Baker Mengis the flour and Hulda Farnsteiner the goose feathers.
    Physics teacher Laudenbach and Herr Doktor Rauschenberger were the key players, the little guy was Haenschen Vogeley. Villain 'Raeuber Henning' did eventually get cornered and fought to the very ledge and his very end, finally plunging into the river,500 metres below, in a treeless descent. Haenschen Vogeley(the flier) married Anneliese (her name was changed in the poem for rhyming reasons) , they opened a pizza shop and did farming on the side, and they had 11 children, one of whom became an aviator, and his youngest son today runs a hot air balloon service in the Black Forest.
    It has since been discovered that helium will eat a cow bladder within 11 hours, something Dr. Rauschenberger had suspected back then.
    Herbert
    (Report) Reply

  • (1/31/2005 6:03:00 PM)


    This was superb! Had me hanging on the edge of my seat! Lots of fun to read and it flowed well. One question: What does 'malheur' mean? (Report) Reply

  • (1/31/2005 4:56:00 PM)


    You have done it again! A most awesome work...Kept me right there, over and over! The second time, is always, better, that way, we are sure not to miss anything.
    Best Wishes,
    Theodora Onken
    (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: hunting, wedding, lonely, girl, teacher, crazy, courage, weather, dark, death, strength, fate, silence, together, remember, rose, children, tree, beauty, fear



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 31, 2005

Poem Edited: Monday, January 31, 2005


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